Food Forensics

Leveraging insight for proactive risk management in food manufacturing

By Alison Johnson

- Last updated on GMT

Insight goes beyond intelligence, says Food Forensics' Alison Johnson. Credit: Getty/BrianAJackson
Insight goes beyond intelligence, says Food Forensics' Alison Johnson. Credit: Getty/BrianAJackson

Related tags Research Trade Food safety

In the realm of risk assessment and horizon scanning within the food industry, the distinction between intelligence and insight holds paramount importance.

While intelligence provides a snapshot of past or present occurrences, insight delves deeper, offering interpretations and foresight into potential risks on the horizon often linking seemingly unrelated intelligence to provide actionable insight.

Consider the case of RASFF alerts and recalls – they serve as vital intelligence, flagging existing risks. However, true insight goes beyond mere identification, it anticipates future challenges. For instance, recognising a current shortage of seed potatoes in Europe hints at potential disruptions during the upcoming harvest season, prompting proactive measures such as supplier discussions (particularly in processed material where quality and substitutions may be less obvious) and enhanced testing protocols to mitigate impending impacts.

Similarly, recent reports indicating a decline in Turkish sultana supply underscore the need for proactive planning, especially with Easter approaching and the demand for hot cross buns rising. Global production of sultanas is reported to have shrunk by more than 10% with Turkey (the world's largest supplier of sultanas) reducing by ~35% for the 23/24 campaign. This insight prompts considerations such as reformulating recipes, exploring alternative ingredients, or ensuring stringent quality control to offset potential risks like product substitution or unauthorised additives.

Yet, gathering actionable insights is no easy feat. Unlike intelligence, which is often straightforward, insight demands a nuanced understanding of agricultural dynamics and supply chain intricacies. For example, while a rise in Scottish salmon mortality might seem isolated, it suggests a tightening of supply is likely. Couple this insight with the knowledge that there has been a significant drop in Norwegian salmon prices, and this may suggest an increased risk of Scottish salmon substitution with Norwegian-origin salmon – a broader risk affecting the entire supply chain. Such insights empower companies to swiftly adapt strategies and safeguard supply integrity.

Food manufacturing entities must recognise the multifaceted nature of insight. From monitoring orange juice supply chains as global supplies tighten; to navigating vegan claims in fruit where shellac (beetle-derived wax) may be used to preserve citrus fruits, highlighting potential issues with olive oil authenticity as demand has grown faster than production; to shipping disruption as a result of droughts (Panama Canal) or conflict (Red Sea), the spectrum of potential insights is vast.

Moving forward, it's imperative for businesses to integrate insight-driven approaches into their risk management frameworks. Merely acknowledging risks isn't sufficient; proactive anticipation and mitigation are key. By embracing a holistic perspective that encompasses both intelligence and insight, food manufacturers can navigate evolving challenges with confidence and resilience.

In conclusion, as the landscape of food production continues to evolve, leveraging insights alongside intelligence is essential for staying ahead of risks. By fostering a culture of continuous monitoring, analysis and proactive decision-making, food manufacturers can uphold safety standards, preserve brand integrity and thrive in an ever-changing marketplace.

In other news, we look at the importance of developing a digital strategy when it comes to investing in your technology set-up​, following an insightful webinar discussion around traceability and tech. 

Related topics Food Safety Supply Chain Technical

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